Stress Management

Stress is defined as any force that acts upon you in such a way as to create an internal response or reaction. The source of stress is called a stressor. It may be internal or external, and may produce acute or chronic stress. Stress may also take several forms including psychological or physical. All types of stress has the potential to be good for you (eustress) or bad for you (distress).

Stress may be caused by a countless number of stressors in your life. Psychological stressors may include the death of a family member, relationship problems, sexual difficulties, relocation of school, work, or residence, financial changes, vacations, holidays, work or school pressures, and any change in home, work, school, family, or social routines. Physical stressors include illness, disease, alcohol, tobacco, pollution, medications, food, temperature, and exercise.

All stressful events, whether conscious or unconscious, are registered and processed by your brain, which then alters the physiology of your body in response to the stressor. This "mind over body" process may lead to a number of psychophysiological diseases. Examples of stress-related diseases include alcoholism, asthma, bruxism, cardiovascular diseases, colitis, drug addiction, hormone problems, hyperactivity, hyperventilation, insomnia, learning disabilities, migraine headaches, stuttering, essential hypertension, muscle spasm, neuromuscular disorders, pain, Raynaud's disease, tension headache, ulcers, and urological disorders.

The first step in stress management is to identify the stressors and the type of distress they are creating as well as the health problems being created by them. Next, it is important to establish desired goals relative to the stressors and then developstrategies needed to convert the distress into eustress.